EXTRA VIRGIN: Not that kind of an olive.

Well, I am not exactly talking of a special kind of olives out here.Besides the gifts,what stole my heart this Valentine's Day was James Beard Winner Chef Michael Smith's swank tapas bar EXTRA VIRGIN, in downtown Kansas City.It was the perfect place for the biggest date night of the year.Given the wide variety of couples who were dinning there, was enough proof, how this restaurant has managed to woo the Kansas Citians.Usually there is a brainstorming session between hubby and me self, as to where we should dine.But our choices seemed to match when we were deciding on where to dine this Valentine's Day.
Some time back, when we were both busy with our lappies on the couch, the mention of 'Duck Tongue Tacos,' made us look up at the television screen.Chef Curtis Stone was speaking about the best thing he ever ate on a popular show on Food Network. And he mentioned Duck Tongue Tacos, in Extra Virgin, in our very own Kansas City.The location of the restaurant: a stone's throw from hubby's office.To think we had no clue about it all this time. So it was set. Extra Virgin it had to be, very soon. And so it was. Reservations were made, and we were all set for Date Night. The tapas bar,with its eclectic menu,seemed to be the right choice for our adventure loving souls.
The red table tops, the eclectic graffiti, the wine collection  and the romantic ambiance overall, were enough to steal my heart. But the food and the cocktails proved that why Chef/Owner Michael Smith is so popular.Although the menu was divided into a few sections, our choices were restricted to section aptly named, 'For the Adventurous.' Snails,Trotter(Pig foot),Wild Boar,Duck Tongue,Duck Gizzards,Pig Ear to name a few. We had been dousing ourselves in a whole lotta wine, all this weekend, hence decided to opt for cocktails,despite the extensive wine collection. If Chef Michael Smith ensured an awesome dining menu, then his bar manager Berto Santoro complimented it with his cocktails.'UNPOSSIBLE,' was the choice of the night.It was the right mix of rum,apple cider,walnut liqueur,two kinds of bitters,lemon juice,Serrano pepper-rum-honey syrup and garnished with a wedge of lime and cloves.A very refreshing drink for a cold winter night.While the couple in the background continued to have their lover's tiff, our mood was super set.

For the first course, we opted for CRISPY TROTTER CAKES.Pig feet or Trotters are known to e very gelatinous, but these cakes took them to another level.The cakes were as their names suggested. Very crispy exteriors and just as you bit into one, the interiors were a completely different texture.Served with a relish of jicama, olives,cucumber,tomato and a hint of parsley, which proved to be a good contrast to the hot cakes.

ROASTED MARROW BONES became our second course.I can understand all the hype about Foie Gras in the world, and believe in it too, after having dined on it in New Orleans.But I fail to understand why no one speaks so much about Marrow Bones. Even they are worth a lot of hype.The Marrow Bones had been roasted to perfection, and it was almost like butter.Roasted onions with just a hint of heat, and shredded cilantro garnished the marrow bones along with a generous drizzle of olive oil. The grilled bread with butter was the perfect touch. Our hearts and tummy both were full, well, almost full. We still had to order Chef Curtis Stone's recommendation, which had brought us to Extra Virgin.
DUCK TONGUE TACOS were supposed to be our third course. But by the time we decided to order, they had already sold out.That meant we would be coming here once again.Well, we decided to settle for WILD BOAR RAGU.Somehow it reminded me of Kosha-Mangsho.The boar was cooked to perfection.They were served on a bed of Polenta Cakes and had good ol' grated Parm and chopped parsley as the garnish. There was nothing 'gamey,' about it, as Andrew Zimmern always points out about wild boar.
 Our hearts were happy, our tummies even happier. A couple of cocktails down, we opted for some ESPRESSO before we headed home. A decadent chocolate banana-cake awaited us at home with some Remy Martin.
V-Day  Dinner ended on just the right note for us.Our Best Regards to Chef Michael Smith for this amazing joint. Next on the cards, 'Michael Smith,' the signature restaurant of the chef, which is bang opposite to Extra Virgin. The reason: As we were walking out of Extra Virgin, we could not help but notice Chef Smith and his beautiful wife Nancy dining on some succulent juicy braised rabbit. If that's the Chef's choice for his wife on the most romantic day of the year, we surely have to give that a try. Food is an aphrodisiac after all. Till then, Bon Appetit.

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For those who have grown up loving the food at a certain eatery, just off Park Street in Central Kokata, they will never forget the taste of a plate of Grilled Liver.The unmistakable taste of Mocambo. The cozy joint which serves up culinary legacies as if we are still in the days of the Raj.Every trip to Kolkata means at least one meal there.We usually kick start our evening with a dinner at Mocambo, and Grilled Liver is something we order always.I guess I have lost count on how much me and hubby have spent collectively in that eatery. But the place has its own charm. The food, the taste, the beer in the silvery mugs, the dim red lights over every table: the combo just never fails.

With our current Kolkata trip standing cancelled, I was not in the brightest of moods.All that I had so meticulously planned had been given the boot.Moreover I was having an apathy for the last few days, for the kitchen.It was just those days, when you just do not feel like cooking. So my Iron Chef decided to heal the situation in his signature style.He took over kitchen duties, and ensured that I do not crib much for the cancelled trip.He decided to cook and I decided to pick up my DSLR and capture it.He brought Mocambo home in Kansas City. Grilled Liver with mushrooms, onions,peas and loads of butter was enough to bring a beaming smile on my face. The way I polished off my plate was proof enough of the fact that the negativity had vanished from my system. The liver was grilled to perfection.The mushrooms had been hit with a dash of cayenne pepper, so whenever you bit into one, you had the right amount of heat in the dish.It was simply Kolkata served on a platter on a cold winter night out here in the Midwest. What could I want more?!

Chicken Liver: 1 lb
Ginger paste: 1 1/2 tbsp
Garlic paste: 1 1/2 tbsp
Red Wine Vinegar: 2 tbsp plus 1 tbsp
Salt: to taste:
Chicken Boulion: 1 1/2 tbsp
Butter: 1 stick
Peas: A handful
Onions: 1 medium sized one,cut in slivers
Button Mushrooms: 6-8,cut in chunks
Cayenne Pepper: 1 tsp

Marinate the cleaned chicken liver with vinegar and ginger-garlic paste and chicken bouillon for an hour. As Andrew Zimmern would say,the marination ensures that the liver does not have a 'gamey flavour,' to it.

Add butter to the grill/skillet and then add the onion slivers and the marinated liver. Discard the residual liquid.

Brown the liver properly on the grill. You have to be careful so that they do not get charred.Add in some red wine vinegar and salt and keep searing.

Create a space in one corner of the grill, and throw in the mushrooms. Season them with salt and a dash of cayenne pepper.

Add in the peas to the party. We believe in going green to a  certain extent after all.

Some more butter.
Ensure that everything is well integrated. Check for seasoning and serve hot.
Next time you are missing eating out at Mocambo, you know what will set the mood at home.

Bon Appetit!!